The I’m Not a Feminist Schtick.

Here’s a fas­cin­at­ing read on the pains some prom­in­ent women go to to dis­tance them­selves from the term fem­in­ism to describe them­selves, des­pite profit­ing off the fem­in­ism move­ment and to a cer­tain degree also being fem­in­ists in everything but name.

I have abso­lutely no good reason to call myself a fem­in­ist other than the fact I am a woman!

First things first: just because someone who has reached a pos­i­tion of power in the media is a woman, doesn’t mean she’s a fem­in­ist. Take Jackie O, long­time off­sider of odi­ously sex­ist weirdo Kyle Sandi­lands. “I’ve never con­sidered myself a fem­in­ist. I’m just, you know, I’m doing what I love. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. But … you know,” she said earlier in the year. Well, no, Jackie, we don’t know, but one thing’s for sure: your bills are paid by a show, in a notori­ous “boys’ club” busi­ness, that reg­u­larly belittles and cas­tig­ates women — why would you call your­self a fem­in­ist? Some­times it’s okay for us not to have a fam­ous woman on our side, as nice as it would be.

 I like men too much!

The idea that fem­in­ism means an out­right rejec­tion of men is hope­lessly out­dated. “I’m not a fem­in­ist — I hail men, I love men,” Lady Gaga said. “I cel­eb­rate Amer­ican male cul­ture and beer and bars and muscle cars.” (That par­tic­u­lar quote was from ‘09, but Gaga’s stance has remained unchanged.) Guess what, Stefanie? So do I! I’ve even touched some Amer­ican men and found that they didn’t turn to dust upon con­tact with my fem­in­ist fin­gers! Incred­ibly, it is pos­sible to have a nuanced view of gender roles that allows you to like — even love — some men while still appre­ci­at­ing how many of the world’s prob­lems are caused by (pre­dom­in­antly white, middle-aged) men.

Women have already achieved equality!

When you are obscenely rich, and also hap­pen to be white, able-bodied and from an upper-middle-class back­ground, it is easy to think that fem­in­ism has done all it can do. Yahoo!’s CEO Melissa Mayer believes “in equal rights” and that “women are just as cap­able [as men]” but thinks fem­in­ism is “a more neg­at­ive word”. She’s not alone. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy reckoned this past week (though she claims she was mis­in­ter­preted) that “in my gen­er­a­tion we don’t need to be fem­in­ist”. It gets worse still: “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by par­ents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life,” Taylor Swift said recently when asked if she was a fem­in­ist. Most women do work as hard as guys, Taylor, but most women aren’t mak­ing mega­bucks and selling note­books with their face on them in Walgreen’s — in fact, most women are still earn­ing far less than their male coun­ter­parts for exactly the same work.

But I’m a fam­ily woman!

In Feb­ru­ary, Gwyneth Pal­trow sup­posed that her ded­ic­a­tion to her two kids and hus­band was a fem­in­ist no-no. “This may not be fem­in­ist, but you have to com­prom­ise,” she said. “And if you want what you’re say­ing you want — a fam­ily — you have to be a wife, and that is part of the equa­tion. Gloria Steinem may string me up by my toes, but all I can do is my best, and I can do only what works for me and my fam­ily.” Hey, Gwyn? Even Ms. Steinem was a wife once! Fem­in­ists are able to marry and work out com­prom­ises in order to make their rela­tion­ships work. Indeed, you could argue that a mar­riage in which both part­ners have com­prom­ised to the point where par­ent­ing duties and bread­win­ning are shared equally is par­tic­u­larly feminist.

We don’t need labels!

The notion that to merely use the term “fem­in­ist” will derail the uni­verse is a com­mon one. Melissa Leo, who won the Best Sup­port­ing Act­ress Oscar for her work in The Fighter and who has made a career out of play­ing feisty, inde­pend­ent char­ac­ters, was at pains in August to tell Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir that it didn’t mean she was a fem­in­ist “at all”. Her reas­on­ing? “As soon as we start labeling and cat­egor­iz­ing ourselves and oth­ers, that’s going to shut down the world.” The inter­view then went on to dis­cuss whether her vari­ous hair col­ours had affected the types of roles she’d been offered. Well, we wouldn’t want to shut the world down, would we?

As easy as it is to ignore such women, it is an unfor­tu­nate con­sequence of the idol­iz­a­tion industry that young people all over the world look up to these women as role mod­els. I myself once turned in an assign­ment in high school with Rob­bie Wil­li­ams as someone I looked up to. Post-Pharyngula-reading me now cringes at the thought.

Alright we get it. You all aren’t fem­in­ists. But would you all have the decency to at least respect the work of actual fem­in­ists who made the world a less intol­er­able place for women by not cari­ca­tur­ing the movement?